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a gloomy picture. No, my friends, that tongue that deals in the fires of hell merely to give effect to its oratory—and that heart that takes pleasure in pourtraying the miseries of the wicked merely to harrow up the feelings, deserves to be disowned by humanity. But to remind you of the truth, is a duty of love, however disagreeable its aspect. Jesus, the friend of sinners, has dwelt upon this topic, that he might induce men to “flee from the wrath to come.” But it is to no purpose that I address you,

if

you are not each employed in asking, “Is it I ?” Am I living in a state of enmity with God-leading a wicked lifeestranged from God-alienated from a life of godliness ? And does the end that has been described, indeed, await

me?

To assist you in this most important inquiry, we add a few observations, in reply to the question, who is the wicked ? and first

Not merely the outrageous transgressor of the laws and decencies of life, such as the murderer, and the adulterer, and the profane despiser of God and his laws the liar and the thief, the extortioner and the oppressor. These are clearly denounced by reason, as well as by the voice of religion. But it must be considered that the criminality of individuals consists in the evil dispositions of the heart, from which their outward acts proceed. So Christ declares, that “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries,” &c. Now in the sight of God, the crime itself is justly charged, wherever the dispositions exist that, under favourable circumstances, would produce the act. Human laws take cognizance of overt acts merely because these are the only evidence of crimi. nal disposition to man, who cannot see the heart; but God, who knows the most secret movements within us, holds us fully guilty in innumerable instances, where a violation of human laws has not existed; for it is perfectly obvious that mere occasion and opportunity of crime cannot constitute any part of its moral guiltiness. Many a man, therefore, who walks in the sunshine of public favour, and is saluted by the voice of popular applause-reputed for virtue, and honour, and moral worth-is classed in God's book of reckoning, on the same list with the man who forfeits his life to the laws of his country, and dies abhorred and detested by mankind. And one circumstance, not the least alarming, about this consideration, is, that the crimes of the heart make but a slight impression on the man himself. When an outward act of immorality comes under the cognizance of his fellow-men, and brings down their reproach or the penalty of the laws, a deep memorial is implanted in the sinner's breast. He remembers it with sorrow till his dying day; but the crimes of the heart, which are only registered in the book of God, follow each other in quick succession, and are remembered no more; bring no remorse-no shame--no repentance. Indeed, they somehow come to be regarded by the individual as if they were no crimes, when they have never escaped the precincts of his own heart. But here—the laws of God are substantially broken : in a court that extends its judgment to the heart, the man is clearly guilty; the authority of God is here set aside, and treated as if it were nothing; either the attribute of his spiritual omnipresence is denied, or he is boldly defied by this heart-transgressor to note and punish.

And here another important consideration presents it. self, viz.-that to be restrained from any sin, merely by the fear of human laws, or a regard for human favour, does not exempt a man from the character of wicked. This follows of necessity from what we have already observed. The fear of punishment, or the love of reputation and its con. comitant advantages, are mere circumstances tbat, in the judgment of the individual, outweigh the propensity to crime, if that propensity exist; so that these circumstances being removed, the crime would naturally be committed ; then most obviously the cause why that individual is not outwardly criminal, is not to be sought for in his disposition, but in things external, which, as before, cannot affect the guilt or innocence of his character before a heart-searching God.

But besides those crimes of the heart, which would be cognizable by human laws, when acted out in palpable transgression, there are a thousand others, most heinous in the sight of God, against which no human statutes have been framed, and which, for that reason also, are committed with less reserve, and remembered with less com. punction among men. There is the whole class of duties, for instance, which we owe directly to God. No human laws can reach most of these; and those which they can affect, are tardily enjoined and reluctantly executed. The duties which we owe to the Supreme Executive of the human government under which we live, are enjoined with precision and guarded with a vigilant eye; treason against our country is branded with infamy; and to defraud a fellow-citizen is justly punished as a crime. But disaffection against the Sovereign of the universe is hardly esteemed a crime; and treason against his government has no infamy attached to it; his claims are disallowed, his institutions are disregarded, and his ordinances treated with levity or neglect, and yet no civil penalty ensues. Ungodliness, although the highest rank of crime in reason and nature itself, the parent of every crime, is yet so common in our world, as to be thought consistent with every social virtue; 'and men are reputed and esteemed, and of consequence esteem and comfort themselves with the idea, that they are good and virtuous, while, in the sight of God, and in an equal and just judgment of others, they are wicked men.

Ånd such, in a word, my hearers, is every one of you by nature : a fair external you may possess, from the influence of the civil laws and a civilized education ; re. gular and virtuous you may be in the phrase of the world, from a high relish for the commendation of your neighbours, and a sense of the loss which would sustain from infamy; but guilty, guilty in the sight of God you are, of a thousand crimes that never saw the light of day-a thousand crimes which you have now forgotten, and which made no other impression as they passed, than to habituate you to the like again. Guilty you are of innumerable enormities, of which, in the spirit of human statutes, you never charged yourself; rebellion against your Maker; contumacy of his presence and contempt of his authority ; irreverence towards his name and profanation of his institutions. Guilty of these you have been ; and these denominate you and all of us, “ wicked." 'All our race who are not so are recovered, by being renewed in the spirit of their minds-purified and sanctified by the Spirit of our God. Being reconciled to him through his Son, they obey from the heart unfeignedly. The love of God with them casts out the fear of man and of human laws. The sense of the favour of God swallows up the little motives arising from the favour of men. They live to God—their lives are directed by his will and devoted to his service ;-these, and these alone, are not the " wicked.” You can now, therefore, form some idea of the

true answer to your question-am I of the number of the wicked ?

Judge yourselves, that ye be not judged, and come into condemnation with the wicked. Now is the day of repentance-the season for regeneration—the Word and the Spirit are now in your reach-God thus far bears with you, and concedes to your desire of life in this world. But the term is becoming every moment shorter. Your days are numbered and your months are with him, who also seeth your sin, and layeth up your transgression.

Will you consent to remain in the class of the wicked till you be “driven away" in your wickedness ? Will you venture to-day to refuse your Maker once more, and practically defy his power or mock his forbearance? There is but one way for poor wicked sinners to change their character and become righteous in the sight of God, and that is by sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. Whenever we tender you the invitations of the Gospel, and say that God is waiting to be gracious, we imply that the Spirit is ready to apply his influences to those who will not resist and quench his emotions. Have your consciences been affected now? Do you condemn yourselves as wicked ?-then has the Holy Ghost been here--the word which you hear is able to save your souls. Have you received it in faith, or do you cherish doubting minds? If you believe the Scriptures, then go and take them for your guides, and determine to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified-till you also shall be crucified to the world, and the world crucified unto youtill, redeemed from the guilt, and defilement, and danger of sin, you shall have your fruit unto holiness, the pledge of everlasting life.

If you hesitate, then, contemplate your doom : you are wicked-you are despisers of God, and resisters of his Spirit: look before you-your portion is in hell, and God will drive you away. How soon I cannot tell. He does not always afford the warning which, even bere, we have supposed. Often in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, his messenger sweeps along like a whirlwind, and hurls the victims of folly and sin into an eternal world, without a moment for reflection. Hearers, lay it to heart, and think of your end now. “ Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little."

399

OBITUARY,

She was a

MRS. BLACK, wife of Mr. Henry Black, of Belfast, died on Monday, 22 July, 1833, leaving a name behind her that will long be tenderly cherished by all who knew her. happy Christian, and had long been so. For

she walked in the light of the Lord's countenance, enjoying comfortable evidence of her acceptance with him, and delighting to do his will Nor did a long, wasting sickness interrupt her enjoyment of God. She bore it with meekness of patience. She could speak of her death with as much composure as though she were about to make a short and easy journey to some more blessed land. The reasons of this continued enjoyment of religion were various, and deserve the attention of all who would attain to the same. prehension of the finished work of Jesus Christ lay at the foundation of it all. She was enlightened to see its completeness, she trusted exclusively and unreservedly upon it, and thus was she enabled to “ rejoice in the Lord.”. Without this apprehension no sinner can or ought to have peace; but with it all ought to be happy. It was in her youth she was so taught of God, and this contributes not a little to the higher enjoyments of religion. Many sinful prejudices and customs are thus avoided, which, so far as they prevail, never fail to produce unhappiness: the mind is thus formed into the habit of religious contemplation, which is a never-failing source of satisfaction; and the life becomes so moulded in the ways of godliness, that whatever blessedness it confers, becomes the enduring portion. All this was the happiness of Mrs. Black, for she had given her heart early to God, and chose him for her portion. She had besides a peculiar trait of character, which greatly contributed to her enjoyment—the most ardent and untiring activity in the service of God. Her whole conversation was about religion. In her there was an exemplification of our Lord's maxim, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” No matter who was the person or what the company, she had a word to say for Christ. She may be said to have thought in words, and appeared to know nothing of those difficulties and delicacies by which so many feel themselves to be restrained. In this she had her reward; for all the faithfulness with which she treated others, only reflected so much satisfaction and happiness upon herself. In labours she was abundant. She visited the sick-she fed the

A clear ap

many years

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